Still Haven’t Said ‘Yes to the Dress’? Your Semi Dress Guide


Mariel Rosati '19, Copy Editor

Semi is approaching rapidly, and students are in the midst of finding the right dress, shoes, and in some cases, a date. This is my second year attending a Montrose semi-formal, so I know the struggle of finding a dress. I swear it’s not just me: lots of girls, especially new students and freshmen, have trouble when it comes to the outfit,. You don’t want to be the person who buys her dress the day before, or the day of, the event–and yes, that has happened before!

I decided to compile a list of my favorite stores that offer dresses in a variety of sizes, styles, colors and prices. Semi dresses can get expensive fast, and if you factor in the cost of shoes, tickets, etc, you will want to make sure you are not spending tons of cash on a dress you will most likely only wear once.

  • Nordstrom and other leading department stores

Nordstrom is an obvious pick, but I figured I would include it nevertheless. Similar to Nordstrom are other department stores like Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, and Neiman Marcus. Don’t forget to check the clearance rack!

  1.      Forever 21

This may not be the first store that comes to mind when you think of semi dresses, but Forever 21 has a great variety of dresses at inexpensive prices. You can purchase a dress there for as little as $15 – perfect for a one-time occasion look! Every item at F21 is in fashion and will follow the latest trends; plus, the stock is changing constantly. Check both in store and online for even more options.


This online fashion boutique was actually recommended to me by a few seniors last year. also offers more inexpensive options, but keep in mind it is an online-only shop.

  1. Lulu’s

Lulu’s is the online store where I purchased my dress this year. There are so many options and styles, from bodycon to a-line to long gowns; you’re bound to find something! They offer free shipping and returns over $50.

  1.  Express

If you are looking for a more “casual” semi dress, meaning something basic, with no tulle/sparkles, Express has a great stock. I recommend visiting an in store location, as they usually have more selections not available online.

Now that you know where to purchase a dress, here are a few tips to ensure to maximize your shopping experience, while minimizing the amount of time you have to spend.

  • Do your research. Look about dresses online beforehand. You can even reserve the ones you want at places like Nordstrom, so you can quickly get in and out of the store.
  • Try before you buy. Make sure you try on the dress before buying it! You don’t want to have a surprise wardrobe malfunction the day of. If you are shopping online, check the return policy before purchasing, and keep all tags/receipts.


  • Visit in store, if possible. The benefit to shopping in person is that stores often carry a greater selection of items than shown online. Not only can you try things on, but you will find different dresses; sometimes you can also get something off the clearance rack.


  • Know what you want. This ties in with the research tip, but make a list of the characteristics you like and do not like in a dress. This is something many of my friends did last year, and it really helps to know what you are looking for because the large selection can feel very overwhelming.

Good luck in your semi dress search, and don’t forget to R.S.V.P. by Friday, January 13!